Funerals are deadly serious and often come at unexpected times. This one is the result of personal experiences of the writer/director. You will recognize some customs and also you may identify with some of the bahavior. Each community has their own habits, but humans have similar stresses. For "The Funeral" (1984) Juzo noticed family relations and picked up on some idiosyncrasies
The first scene is of an old man coming back home after a physical exam by a doctor who assured he was normal. There is a detailed scene of him unpacking a bag of groceries. Soon he becomes ill and dies. The narrator of the story happens to be a film maker and is caught in the middle of a tv. commercial. It turns out the deceased is his father in law and nobody is quite sure what to do next.
Family members get involved with the funeral to be held at the narrator's house. We witness some petty family business, but also some joyous conversations. The point of the film is not any plot, but just to notice the small details of this personal funeral.
Perhaps to spice things up there is a pretty explicit sex scene with a funny aftermath. The narrator is hiding from his wife and is coerced into some sex with a girl friend that he didn't want to attend the funeral.
Kneeling in religious ceremonies is a Japanese tradition that director thought odd. He showed camera angles to show the feet of kneeling mourners. One of the mourners falls asleep and falls over, apparently not uncommon demonstrating discomfort and boredom.
All those attending the funeral went further to a crematorium. Children were allowed by staff to watch fthe lames and become rambunctious. Some adults also watch and question the furnace attendant
After the ceremony speeches were called for. The narrator had been very nervous, but he was interrupted by the widow who requests a chance to speak, catching everyone off guard.
Juzo Itami has been an actor in the movies and on television, but at age 50 he decided to be a writer and directer and this is his first effort which includes producer. He is known to react everyday events and portray idiosyncrasies Created stronger roles for women Son of a well know Director which caused him to avoid becoming a director. A few of his film credits: "55 Days at Peking" (1965), "Lord Jim" (1965) and "Tampopo" (1995) Some of his later films hit the gangster mob Yukuza who at one time attacked him with knives. Juzo died from jumping out of a building and it has been speculated that he had been forced.
Executive producer, Yasushi Tamaoki,owned a sweets company and has used
Juzo to do commericals for tarts like shown in "The
Funeral." Became a critical helper for the final
financing. After Juzo's death he set up a Juzo Itami museum
Tsutomu Yamazaki played the narrator and son in law of the deceased. His film credits include "Tampopo" (1995) and the Oscar winning "Departures" (2008).
Nuboko Miyamoto the wife of Juzo also played the wife in this film. This was her first lead role, but had played many supporting roles. The death of her father sparked the idea of the film. The story was filmed in their house in Yugawara and at one point she is shown on top of a log swing actually built by her husband.
Kin Sugai played one of the female relatives. Her film credits include "Ikiru" (1952),
Manpei Ikeuchi, 9 year old son played one of the rambunctious kids. -had been told when his dad wanted to do a film that if it failed it would make for a money hardsdhip for the family. He did a few ad libs during the film-At one point he did a sketch and with a few professional touchups it became the cover for the movie.
One of the advantages of getting DVD's are the special features some of them include that very often help to give a better understanding of the film. This was a good example.
For other perspectives on disposing of dead bodies. http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/09/would-you-rather-be-burnt-mummified-or.html
As usual I have bolded the first mention of films I have seen.